Region now competing with South Slave to host the 2018 Arctic Winter Games
Elaine Anselmi | INUVIK
December 11, 2014
For the 25th anniversary of the Arctic Winter Games (AWG), Mayor Floyd Roland said it’s time to bring the sporting event above the Arctic Circle.
“We want to put the Arctic back in the Arctic Winter Games,” Roland said.
The Town of Inuvik, along with regional partners, narrowly made the Nov. 28 deadline to submit bids to host the 2018 games with just two days left. With the support of Aklavik, Tuktoyaktuk and Fort McPherson, the Beaufort Delta bid will be evaluated by delegates of the AWG International Committee in January.
Delegates will also visit the other contender for the games, the South Slave region, where Hay River and Fort Smith have joined forces to put in a pitch.
So what does the Beaufort Delta have to offer?
A proven track record of hosting the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, the annual Circumpolar Northern Games and the at-one-time annual Petroleum Show, said Roland.
An added bonus, he said of the regional bid, is the opportunity for those at the games to experience the entire area from the Arctic Ocean to the regional centre.
In its bid, the town estimated the cost of the games to be approximately $7.5 million, covering transportation, food costs and lodging for athletes.
This would also cover some expansion of infrastructure and a small-scale facility built to offer either cafeteria services or additional competition space, said Roland. In the long run, he said better use could be made of a more involved new-construct that could serve as event space for the community for years to come, but would add approximately $500,000 to the budget.
In all, Roland said the four communities would share a cost of approximately $800,000 toward the games – as well as donating the use of their recreational space – with the remainder coming from territorial and federal support, corporate sponsorship and potential grants.
While the games would come at a cost, Roland was confident the payoff would follow both economically and socially.
“I think when you look at the 10 days (of the event), there will be a direct benefit to the community and the region,” said Roland.
“For the Town of Inuvik, it’s an opportunity for some growth, not only for the 10 days, but the three years building up to it.”
If the bid is successful, Roland said three positions would be created at the onset of planning, including an executive director and fundraiser, with more positions added over the three years. As well, he said there would be local benefits in terms of construction jobs.
During the games, he said those benefits would be very clear, with hotels and restaurants filled to capacity.
The event would bring approximately 2,000 athletes, in addition to supporters and volunteers to the community – a reason Roland said having other communities involved was an important piece.
“The games have gotten so big that if it was just one community that had to host, you’re making it a games of only major cities,” said Roland.
When Roland reached out to his counterparts in the neighbouring communities, he said they were strongly in support.
The Beaufort Delta Regional Council – made up of mayors and representatives of all Inuvialuit communities in the region – supported the bid in favour of the positive impact on health and wellness in communities that Roland said would be a major benefit.
“I would say the games themselves present an opportunity for our youth to be energized and active in their own community, and in their own future through health and longevity,” said Roland, noting that he could still remember the names of the big hockey players in town when he grew up.
“As a child growing up in a Northern community, if you have someone you can grow up with and say, ‘I want to be like that person’, it sparks and motivates you.”
Though an announcement date for the winning bid has not yet been set, Roland hoped the committee would reach a final decision in March.
“Then, we have three years to be ready to put on the best show the Arctic Winter Games has ever seen,” said Roland.
“We’ll have people walk away from them, after competing, officiating, volunteering and cheering on their teams, and say ‘Wow, I’ll remember that for a lifetime’.”